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Charles Bowden – Collection of lectures and interviews, audio and video

March 12, 2011

Following are links to a number of audio and video interviews with Charles Bowden, critically acclaimed journalist and author of eleven books. Below I have listed many of his published works. Bowden is one of the most important authors I have come across in years. The first book I read was his most recent, Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, which I became aware of after hearing an interview with Bowden on Uprising Radio. I can’t offer much in the way of a brief overview that would adequately cover the themes he deals with and the scope of his work. They speak for themselves. (Not listed in chronological order.)

Audio Interviews with Charles Bowden

1. NPR Morning Edition: Journalist Chronicals ‘Killing Fields’ of Juarez

2. Hearing voices from NPR®  Pen to Paper: Charles Bowden & Isak Dinesen

3. Hearing voices from NPR®  Juárez, Mexico: City on the BorderHost: Scott Carrier “Four years of reports on life in the Mexican border-town of Ciudad Juárez, with poverty and corruption, with daily drug-cartel murders and military violence. Told by photographer/Juarez resident Julián Cardona, author Charles Bowden, and host Scott Carrier.”

4. Hearing voices from NPR: The Thing Just Beyond Our Reach” A story by Scott Carrier “This week’s HV cast is a portrait of the non-fiction writer Charles Bowden, told by the people he’s written about and the editors he’s worked with. Bowden lives in Tucson, Arizona, and has written extensively on the cultural and physical environment of the Southwest. His style is both harsh and beautiful, and somewhat painful to read, as he takes the position that we are all to blame, or perhaps that there is no one is to blame, for the violent and destructive acts committed against nature and society. He writes about child molestors, drug traffickers, savings and loan executives, real estate developers, and crooked politicians in a way that implicates all of us. And so his work has been largely ignored. These interviews, hopefully, will help end his anonymity.”

5. Day to Day on NPR, interview: Shadow in the City, a Look at the Drug Wars.  Writer Charles Bowden’s new book A Shadow in the City tells the story of an undercover cop who spent 23 years on the front lines of America’s drug war. That mission takes its toll on the protagonist, who sees drugs ruin lives — those of users and dealers— and loses faith in the fight. Alex Chadwick talks to Bowden about the book.

6. Day to Day on NPR: Shadow in the City Subject Speaks The life of an undercover cop who spent 23 years on the front lines of America’s drug war is depicted in a new book by writer Charles Bowden titled A Shadow in the City. In this segment, the officer himself talks to Alex Chadwick about his life as a drug warrior.

7. Day to Day on NPR: Shadow in the City Part 3 Alex Chadwick concludes his conversation with a former undercover narcotics officer. He is the subject of a new book, A Shadow in the City, by Charles Bowden. After two decades of fighting the drug war, the officer developed new perspectives on that struggle, and the people he incarcerated.

8. Talking to a Mexican Hitman. Charles Bowden then talks to Jack Rice, a Minnesota Criminal Defense attorney.

9. A Marketplace special: The Undocumented Wars “Writer Charles Bowden takes Scott Carrier to the Arizona-Mexico border. In the middle of the night, amid thousands of Mexicans making their way north, Bowden explains the forces that lead them to make this journey.”

10. NPR’s Market Place: How Ciudad Juarez Became Murder City “Reporter Charles Bowden, author of “Murder City,” talks with Kai Ryssdal about how the Mexican border town of Juarez became caught up in drug violence, and what responsibility the U.S. has to help.”

11. Lannan Readings & Conversations: Conversation with Charles Bowden and Avi Lewis

12. BookTV: Charles Bowden on his book Murder Cuity: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields

13. Whyy Radio: Charles Bowden on his recent book Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields “Ciudad Juarez is just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. What once was a border boom town after NAFTA spurred the building of factories is now best known for a horrific wave of violence that continues to escalate. The city’s murder rate soared from 207 in 2007, to 1,660 in 2008, to 2,660 in 2009, and is on an even higher pace this year. CHARLES BOWDEN has written a new book, Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, that offers bloody testimony to an epidemic of drug-trade-fueled murders that has turned Juarez into one of the most dangerous places on Earth”

14. On The Media: Dreamland – The Way out of Juarez Charles Bowden has been covering the story of Juarez, Mexico for well over a decade. The city is intimately linked to the drug trade, meaning violence and corruption reign, but Bowden felt the full scope of the problem wasn’t being told. In his latest project, Dreamland: The Way out of Juarez, Bowden combines reportage, poetry, police transcripts and illustrations to make sure readers know how bleak the situation really is.

15. NPR’s Day to Day on Juarez: A City on the Edge – Poverty, Violence and Hope in a Sprawling Mexican Boarder Town. This is a link to a six part series on Ciudad Juarez.

16. Charles Bowden interview from Uprising Radio

Magazine Articles by Charles Bowden

From GQ:

Mexico’s Red Days by Charles Bowden

Seven articles by Charles Bowden from Mother Jones

Books Written by Charles Bowden

  • The Impact of Energy Development on Water Resources in Arid Lands: Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography (Tucson: University of Arizona, Office of Arid Lands Studies, 1975)
  • Killing the Hidden Waters (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977)
  • Street Signs Chicago: Neighborhood and Other Illusions of Big City Life / by Charles Bowden and Lew Kreinberg; photographs by Richard Younker; foreword by William Appleman Williams (Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 1981)
  • Blue Desert (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986)
  • Frog Mountain Blues photographs by Jack W. Dykinga. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987)
  • Trust Me: Charles Keating and the Missing Billions (1988) with Michael Binstein
  • Mezcal (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1988)
  • Red Line (New York: Norton, 1989)
  • Desierto: Memories of the Future (1991)
  • The Sonoran Desert / photographs by Jack W. Dykinga; text by Charles Bowden. (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1992)
  • The Secret Forest / text by Charles Bowden; photographs by Jack W. Dykinga; introduction by Paul S. Martin (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993)
  • Seasons of the Coyote: the Legend and Lore of an American Icon / essays by Charles Bowden et al. (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins West, 1994)
  • Frog Mountain Blues ; photographs by Jack W. Dykinga; with a new afterword by the author (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994)
  • Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America (1995)
  • Chihuahua: Pictures From the Edge / photographs by Virgil Hancock; essay by Charles Bowden (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996)
  • Stone Canyons of the Colorado Plateau / photographs by Jack W. Dykinga; text by Charles Bowden (New York: Abrams, 1996)
  • The Sierra Pinacate / Julian D. Hayden; photographs by Jack Dykinga; with essays by Charles Bowden & Bernard L. Fontana (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998)
  • Juárez: The Laboratory of our Future, preface by Noam Chomsky; afterword by Eduardo Galeano (1998)
  • Torch Song (essay) 1999
  • Paul Dickerson, 1961-1997 (essay by Charles Bowden; New York: American Fine Art Co., 2000)
  • Eugene Richards (New York, NY: Phaidon, 2001)
  • Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family (2002)
  • Blues for Cannibals (2002)
  • Killing the Hidden Waters [with a new introduction by the author] (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003)
  • A Shadow in the City : Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior (2005)
  • Inferno (photographs by Michael P. Berman; Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006)(winner of the Border Regional Library Association’s Southwest Book Award)
  • Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb by Nick Schou; preface by Charles Bowden (2006)
  • Some of the Dead are Still Breathing: Living in the Future (2009)
  • Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields (2010). Once a city heralded by the promoters of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Juarez, Mexico has now become a global epicenter of the failed so-called “war on drugs.” Just across the border from El Paso, Texas, the northern Mexican metropolis home to 1.3 million people has garnered a grittier reputation in recent years as a place where cartels battle for control, murders are rampant and poverty remains high in the backdrop of hundreds of foreign owned factories offering wages that can’t begin to compete with the allure of drug trafficking. As part of his drug war policy, Mexican President Felipe Calderon dispatched 10,000 soldiers to the city in March 2008, but murders multiplied just the same as many residents in Juarez want the military gone. The facts and figures of the city’s social descent into chaos are staggering. Four months into the new year, the rate of violent deaths has accelerated upward as 686 lives have already been claimed in the maelstrom. Ciudad Juarez could be headed to its deadliest year on record if it eclipses the 2,600 murders that occurred in 2009 alone. The femicide of young women and girls, a social issue that once drew international attention to the city before seemingly being overshadowed in recent years, continues unabated. More than fifty women have been killed this year; their bodies often mutilated showing signs of torture and abuse. According to the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission, there are at least 20,000 abandoned houses in Ciudad Juarez and could be as many as 30,000. Privileged residents, fearing being caught in the constant crossfire of violence, have fled across the border in droves to El Paso. Painting this portrait in words, award-winning author and critically acclaimed journalist Charles Bowden plunges deep into the soul of Ciudad Juarez in his newest book “Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.” With gripping prose, he broadens the understanding of the ongoing violence beyond the headlines of the U.S. and Mexican media’s explanations of who is doing the killing and who is doing the dying. “Murder City” interweaves the story of the city through a myriad of personalities from a pastor who runs a desert asylum, a reformed killer for hire, and a woman broken by trauma. Luis Alberto Urrea has said of Bowden’s latest work that “there are moments when the book threatens to burst into flames and burn your hands.”
  • Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez (2010); with illustrations by Alice Leora Briggs
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Albert De Amicis permalink
    August 25, 2011 10:08:37 pm

    Hello Charles:

    I am completing a paper titled: “Violence at Our Borders Edge”! I have used both of your books as references Murder City and El Sicario.that are tremendous reads. I just wanted to get your permission to quote you and reference you and your co-author in El Sicario. I appreciate it sir.


    Al DeAmicis, MPIA, MPPM
    University of Pittsburgh Adjunct Faculty

  2. December 10, 2012 10:08:14 pm

    Hello Mr Bowden,

    I am writing a PhD candidate in Comparative LIterature at CUNY’s Graduate Center.
    Unfortunately they have “misplaced” their copy of your book “Juárez: laboratory of our future”. I need the introductory essay for a paper I am writing on Bolaño´s writing of the crimes against women in 2666.
    Where else can I get it? is there a copy online I can use?

    thank you

    Kelly Aronowitz


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